COLUMBUS — When Perrysburg senior Ryan Avalos came up against Toledo Waite sophomore Phoenix Contos in the 126-pound Division I state championship match Sunday, he had a few things to overcome.
For Avalos, it was his third time facing Contos, who defeated Avalos at the Perrysburg Invitational Tournament, commonly known as the PIT. The state championship was their rubber match.
The match was tied 2-2 in the second period before Avalos got a takedown with 1:10 remaining, and he then went on to win, 7-2.
Avalos closes his final year at Perrysburg 40-2, Contos finishes 44-4, each handing the other at least one loss. However, Avalos got the most important win on the big stage at the Schottenstein Center.
Avalos had a little guidance on how to wrestle Contos, who comes from a long family line of great wrestlers. The instructions were not to “over-wrestle.”
“After I lost to him at PIT, my cousin and former state champion Moises Guillen came up to Perrysburg and helped me train and fixed all my mistakes and helped me slow down against him,” Avalos said.
In addition, Avalos says it was his tendency to “over-wrestle” that cost him last year’s state championship, finishing as state runner-up after suffering a one-point loss.
Correcting it got him the highest spot on the podium.
“That was my biggest accomplishment of my entire high school career,” Avalos said. “I really wanted it last year, came up a point short, and my mindset was to get revenge, just wrestling like it was any other match.
“I’m super excited but was really bummed out about last year,” Avalos said. “Made my mind up over the summer, was out for most of the summer (because of an injury), then trained really hard, and took it one step at a time.
“Dropped a couple matches throughout the season and made it to states, and everything was just for this.”
He also had to overcome injuring his knee twice over the last 12 months — once in early summer and again in the fall. Fortunately, he has his teammate, state champion Marcus Blaze, to train with.
“It took dedication, just being smart, practicing with the correct people, just trying to get to 100% as soon as possible,” Avalos said.
“It’s because (Perrysburg) coach (Scott) Burnett has us do a lot of track sprints and a lot of hard wrestling and I’ve practiced with one of the best kids in the nation, which also helps a lot.”
Avalos needed just three pins to get to the state final. He took care of Lewis Center Olentangy sophomore Jake Piontowski (41-12) in 1:31, Stow-Munroe Falls junior Robert Davis (40-7) in 1:37, and Dublin Coffman junior Joseph Baumann (31-7) in 3:57 during his semifinal match.